How to Use 呢
Much like 吗 or 吧, the character 呢 ne is an instrumental end of sentence particle. It has a few different uses, but one of the most common structures us:
“[THING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT] + 呢.”
It’s effectively the reverse grammar of saying “What about him?”. If you just switched it and said “Him what about?”, the ‘what about’ part is 呢. “他呢?”=“What about him.”
A Real Time Saver!
You’ll see 呢 combined with the pronouns 我、你 & 他她它 (I/me, you, he/she/it) all the time, but it could be anything. It’s all context. Usually the context of the previous sentence. 呢 provides the mechanism by which you can ask the same question towards a different object.
The simplest example is “How are you Person 1? What about you Person 2?”.
In Mandarin, for the second question, all you have to do is turn your head to person two and say “你呢？nǐne?”.
The more complicated the original inquiry, the more time it saves.
For example, if someone was asking two scientists one-by-one “What is your opinion on how the rate of photosynthesis in the Amazonian rainforest affects the climate of the region?”, it would save a lot of time not to have to repeat the whole sentence when moving from Scientist 1 to Scientist 2.
Some Example Sentences:
“What did your sister do for her wedding?” “你姐的婚礼是怎样举行的？.”
“She got hitched in Vegas.” “她是在拉斯维加斯闪婚的”
“Cool! What about your brother？”厉害！你的哥哥呢？.“
Now imagine that instead of saying “what about” you said…
“Cool, what did your bother do for his wedding?” Kind of awkward and repetitive, no? Conceptually, using 呢 is just like “what about” in English, but remember that it goes AFTER the person or object you are addressing.